|Carbon Positive Farming
with Peter Burton
Functional Fertiliser Ltd
What should be bothering you most, methane, nitrous oxide, nitrate-nitrogen levels in ground water, carbon sequestration, or the politics of it all?
Making sense of any complex situation requires a clear vision of the big picture. With that in place the detail can be slotted in, and a comprehensive plan that deals to both the short and longer-term situation formulated.
Implementation of the plan follows, and with a clear understanding of the fundamentals a positive outcome is guaranteed.
The first fundamental to have firmly in place is that pastoral farming is not by nature environmentally harmful. It can be, but not necessarily.
Pastoral farming is the quickest and most effective means of taking carbon from carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and storing it safely in the soil.
It is how civilizations without modern fertilisers were able to restore cropped soils to a productive and worthwhile state.
Animals are essential to the restoration process. By digesting plant matter, depositing dung and urine which are readily incorporated into the topsoil, formation of humus is enhanced and nutrients cycle more quickly.
Rapidly cycling nutrients promote higher fertility plants which produce greater quantities of high-quality feed allowing an increased number of high-performing animals to be sustained.
Carbon in the form of humus is the filter that ensures detrimental levels of nitrate-nitrogen and phosphorus do not enter groundwater.
With increased soil carbon the soil becomes an enriched sponge reducing damage from excess rainfall, and long periods of dry weather.
Grazing animals do not manufacture methane, a carbon gas, and nitrous oxide in ever increasing quantities. Both are simply cycled sustainably at non-harmful levels.
The notion that damaging levels of methane and nitrous oxide are created by grazing animals is a fallacy supporting only the position taken by those opposed to livestock. They cycle them in harmony with nature.
And beware of the term mitigation. Inherent in that is the belief that the overall outcome is negative, and recommended actions only reduce the severity of the damage taking place.
Any business that is not environmentally sustainable has no long-term future, and if mitigation is the best that can be done, then the elimination of pastoral farming communities should start immediately.
The acceptance that pastoral farming is environmentally negative and can only exist when offset by the planting of trees or simply ‘cutting’ animal numbers, opens up the farming community to the control of bureaucrats, and there is no viable future for an industry run by elected officials.
There is however a growing number of pastoral properties already producing at exceptional levels and are environmentally positive in all respects.
Because the fundamentals of these enterprises are sound, they also deliver a healthy financial surplus each year.
A DairyNZ field day was held at a long-term client’s intensive dairy property recently. Farm performance was compared to local dairy farms.
The client’s herd breeding worth (BW) was -20 with low reliability, however the cows have for many seasons produced more than their liveweight in milksolids.
Farm Working Expenses measured in $/kgMS were considerably lower resulting in an Operating Profit $2,307/ha higher than the benchmark properties over the last two seasons.
When compared to independently sourced data for the 2011/12 season the profit for the District Average properties has declined while that of our client’s property has increased.
Less than 20kgN/ha annually is applied and our thesis is that this non-reliance on synthetic N, in conjunction with astute daily management, is fundamental to the uncommonly healthy state of the enterprise.
The use of Functional Fertiliser products and programmes over the last twenty years has resulted in measures that show carbon is actively sequestered and a steady increase in pasture and profit generated.
For more information call Peter on 0800 843 809.